What's next for passenger rail between Pontiac and Chicago

The Michigan Department of Transportation is evaluating passenger rail improvements on the Pontiac/Detroit to Chicago line that runs through Ann Arbor by holding a series of meetings to discuss the environmental impact of an improvement project.

The changes are being discussed as federal and state departments of transportation work to determine how the line could open up economic opportunities for the region. The focus of the improvements is a 304-mile line that connects Michigan, Illinois and Indiana.

A series of meetings are being held in each state to help determine potential effects on the natural environment, air quality, jobs, the economy, traffic and neighborhoods.

According to GreatLakesRail, an advocacy group for passenger rail improvements, "the purpose of the program is to improve intercity mobility by providing an improved passenger rail service that would be a competitive transportation alternative to automobile, bus and air service between Chicago and Detroit/Pontiac…The program will provide sufficient information for the Federal Railroad Administration to potentially support future decisions to fund and implement a major investment in the passenger rail corridor."

The discussions come as cities, including Ann Arbor, are building or have received federal funding to build more modern transportation stations.

The Michigan Department of Transportation's environmental impact meeting will be held Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 7 pm. at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel, 5801 Southfield Expressway, Detroit.

Comments about the changes can also be shared online at GreatLakesRail.org or by telephone, 877-351-0853.

Source: Janet Foran, communications, Michigan Department of Transportation
Writer: Kim North Shine